Humanity is Basically Good?
In the wake of the horrific attack on the Boston Marathon spectators, people are struggling to make sense of the world. Or, more accurately, they’re trying to reassure themselves of their worldview. Trying to convince themselves of the basic goodness of humanity. Attacks like this are rare in the US. But in other parts of the world, they are a way of life. And in other parts of the world, daily life is a horror that we in the West can hardly fathom.
In fact, the human story is one of brutality, injustice, and suffering. Insulated by the now waning benefits of a Judeo-Christian value system, the world is once again closing in…and even then it has only been held back briefly and barely at arms length. Yes, many displayed virtue in helping out those injured. I was impressed at how quickly people ran towards the blast to help the injured. And yet in the same week I read a story about a man in India. His wife and 8 month old child lie dead in the street as he begged passing motorists for help. None of whom stopped. Why did people render aid in Boston, but not there? Worldviews matter. And we still have the remnants of a society whose worldview compels us to render aid.
Most assure themselves that the “good people outnumber the bad.” But history demonstrates that goodness and peace is an anomaly. Christian Theology perfectly explains why the world is the way it is, though the why’s of any individual situation may be obscured. The larger why is sin. Deny sin, and the world will leave you constantly scrambling to explain…or explain away…in order to make sense of things.
Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact. The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin–a fact as practical as potatoes. Whether or no man could be washed in miraculous waters, there was no doubt at any rate that he wanted washing. But certain religious leaders in London, not mere materialists, have begun in our day not to deny the highly disputable water, but to deny the indisputable dirt. Certain new theologians dispute original sin, which is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved. Some followers of the Reverend R.J.Campbell, in their almost too fastidious spirituality, admit divine sinlessness, which they cannot see even in their dreams. But they essentially deny human sin, which they can see in the street. The strongest saints and the strongest sceptics alike took positive evil as the starting-point of their argument. If it be true (as it certainly is) that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat.